By Destiny Diggs
On Wednesday, March 28, the Student Government Association (SGA), administrators and staff members held a Town Hall for students in the Gold Coast Cinema. Twenty five students attended, and posed questions to staff from the offices of LIU Promise, enrollment services, facilities services, healthy living, athletics, public safety, and dining services.
Ashley John, director of student engagement at LIU Promise; Sara Panarelli, director of LIU Promise; Ilkania Maldonado, director of enrollment services; Roy Fergus, director of facilities; Lynn Schwartz, director of healthy living; Debbie DeJong, director of athletics and recreation; Michael Fevola, director of public safety; and Dave Jagsarran, Aramark’s director of catering services, addressed student questions and concerns.
Michael Berthel, dean of students, facilitated the Town Hall. SGA vice president Olivia Kavanaugh, explained the importance of Town Hall meetings to give students a voice on campus issues. SGA president Giovanna Domingo ensured that all students had a chance to speak and passed the microphone around to students.
Campus Life & LIU Promise
One area of concern involved the administrative offices of Campus Life and LIU Promise. Students complained about the success coaches’ “lack of knowledge of major requirements,” which has resulted
in students graduating late and spending more money on their education. Sara Panarelli addressed this issue. “As academic programs change, we try to look at as much academic information about those changes from the departments. We have increased staff training for the success coaches, so [they] can be more well-versed in specific areas,” she said.
Panarelli encouraged students to be aware of program requirements, to use the online bulletin, and to reach out to the associate directors in the promise office if they need help.
One student stated that Post puts more effort into adding new programs than bettering the programs they already have. Berthel said he “certainly [doesn’t] think that we give less attention to already existing programs.” When there is interest in a program that doesn’t exist, Post staff work to get the program added
to “create a great experience at the university” and to compete with other schools, according to Berthel.
A student requested an increase in security on campus. Fevola, director of public safety, explained that the guards in each residence hall at night are monitored on camera to ensure that they are not sleeping and are paying attention to any suspicious activity.
Post is not a closed campus, but at night there is a guard on duty at the entrance. Despite student complaints, Fevola said the guard booth is not empty, and if students do not see a guard there at night, they should call or email him. “[From] 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., the gates should be closed and there should be a guard in the booth checking license plates and IDs,” Fevola said. An officer would not be in the booth in inclement weather, when public safety is short staffed, or when there are 100 or less people on campus.
Newly installed speakers near the Tilles Center, Hillwood Commons, the baseball field, and fine arts buildings have been positioned to communicate urgent announcements to students.
One student raised the issue of sexual assault, noting that students who assaulted other students are still allowed on campus. The panel did not respond about the status of students who allegedly committed assault on campus.
“We have a partnership with the NY state police, they have a campus division. There was a special investigator here helping public safety,” Fevola said. The NY state police provide public safety officers with Title IX and domestic violence training annually.
Students raised concerns about residence halls. The heating and air conditioning systems in the residence halls was the first. “All of our dorms have heating of course; at a certain time we do cut it off based on the temperature outside, we work very closely with the different departments, facilities included, to figure out the best times to turn the heat and air conditioning off,” John said.
The furniture and cleanliness of residence halls was also discussed. Students are not pleased with broken furniture such as drawers in rooms, dirty showers, ripped curtains, and bugs in the bathrooms. John offered to speak with students personally after the Town Hall to discuss those concerns. Both John and Berthel promised to fix these issues.
John explained that campus life has partnered with facilities services to create ongoing one-year, five-year and ten-year plans for all residence halls. Berthel added that the halls have already begun to be updated, and in many of the halls, there is new furniture, hardwood floors and paint.
A student expressed concern about mold in Brookville Hall, as well as asbestos in Pell Hall. Berthel, who was unaware of the issue, promised to look into it, explaining that there are frequent air quality tests conducted on campus. The health department also visits Post campus regularly to ensure students’ health is not in jeopardy.
Athletics & Pratt Recreation Center
A student athlete raised concerns about the quality of training with trainers, off-season training for tennis, and indoor tennis courts. DeJong, director of athletics, responded. “More off-season [training] is definitely something we can look into. We have strength trainers that you can work with in-season and out-season, whether coaches are around or not,” DeJong said. This year, all student athletes received a survey that allows DeJong to get feedback about problems that are occurring.
Another student asked for renovated locker rooms and the addition of a sauna in Pratt. DeJong explained the Pratt is made out of brick walls and it is costly to make changes to concrete walls. “But, I did meet with the director of the recreation center yesterday and we spoke about having a strategic plan,” she said.
Another issue in Pratt is the lack of light on the indoor track. DeJong said that they will look into adding lights or windows and work to keep the Pratt modernized and improve the facilities.
Center for Healthy Living
One student wants the center for healthy living to be open on the weekends for emergency counselor sessions. “I am always available and going to public safety is the best thing to do because they know how to reach me; I am on call 24/7,” Schwartz said. She also said that if she is not available, her associate director, Cindy Woldar, is available to help students. Students also want the center to be better advertised through promotion and social media, and for it to be moved to a more accessible location. Berthel said that there have been discussions to move the center, which is now located in Life Science room 154, to a more centralized area.
The panel of staff and administrators promised to look into all of the student concerns. This was the second Town Hall this school year, the first was in the fall.